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CHAPTER V.: THE STATES-GENERAL OF 1560 AND OF 1576 - Augustin Thierry, The Formation and Progress of the Tiers État, or Third Estate in France vol. 1 
The Formation and Progress of the Tiers État, or Third Estate in France, translated from the French by the Rev. Francis B. Wells, Two volumes in One (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1859).
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THE STATES-GENERAL OF 1560 AND OF 1576
Summary: The Reformation in France—Accession of Charles IX.—The Chancellor l’Hôpital—States-General of 1560, Ordinance of Orleans—Assembly of Pontoise—Commencement of the Civil War—Legislative Labours of l’Hôpital, Ordinance of Moulins—Consequences of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew—New Party composed of Protestants and Catholics—Accession of Henry III.; Fifth Edict of Pacification—The League, its Design, its Power—States-General of 1576; Ordinance of Blois—Henry of Bourbon, King of Navarre; Advice addressed by him to the States—Projects and Popularity of the Duke of Guise.
The schism of the Reformation, the greatest convulsion of opinion which ever shook society in France before the revolution of 1789, was not in our case, as in that of the countries of the north, spontaneous, irresistible, connected with national feelings, with ancient dreams of religious independence, or with circumstances whose principle must be retraced far back in the history of the past. The greatest part of Germany and Switzerland, the Scandinavian kingdoms and England, both nations and governments, had broken off, without a hope of reunion, from the Church of Rome before the middle of the sixteenth century; while in France the need of a reformation in Christian faith, morality, and discipline, although keenly felt by those independent intellects and pious hearts which were influenced by the spirit of the age, was continually encountered by the distrust or hostility of the crown, and did not succeed in gaining over to its cause the mass of the people or any one of the great classes of the nation. Whatever might have been the courage inspired by their convictions, and the merit due to their leaders, the French Protestants “formed,” says an eminent historian,* “only a secret and persecuted party till the day when the weakness of the royal authority, exercised by a prince who was a minor, gave to that party the support of the nobility, and allowed it to declare itself, to organise itself, and to act.”
To the reign of Francis II., which, correctly speaking, was only a minority, succeeded the reign of another minor, Charles IX. Seventeen months were sufficient for the religious passions, driven to extremity on the one hand by a cruel suppression, encouraged on the other by a connivance unworthy of the Government, to make common cause with the ambitious designs of political parties, and for the country to find itself divided into two factions having princes at their head, and formed, the one of the majority of the nobles, the other of the majority of the people united with the clergy. Between the parties, who, both on the Protestant and Catholic side, were enthusiastic even to fanaticism, and persisted in calling for the civil war, there was one of moderate opinions, who, wishing neither for persecution against the Protestants nor for an appeal to arms in their behalf, endeavoured by their tolerance and their demand of a settlement, to preserve in the kingdom the unity of the Church—the support, as they said, of that of the State. That party representing the good sense of the nation was rooted most deeply among the bourgeoisie; it was opposed to schism, but not to liberty of conscience, and it perceived the necessity of important reforms in the habits and government of the French clergy. Such were the feelings and ideas that were observed to prevail in the deliberations of the States-General of 1560, and that mark this assembly with a character peculiar to itself, as it entertained and proposed views upon the rights of the State in the matter of ecclesiastical arrangement, which modern revolutions alone have been able to put into execution.*
There was at that time in the council of the young King, as head of the magistracy, a man who was honoured by his own age with admiration and reverence, and whose memory is held glorious by ours, Michel de l’Hôpital, of whom it may be said that he had the genius of a legislator, the mind of a philosopher, and the heart of a citizen. The son of a bourgeois, and become Chancellor of France—that is to say, first minister—he maintained in the government the traditional principles of the Tiers Etat, an attachment to the maintenance of the unity of the French nation, and to the liberties of the Gallican Church. He was able to induce the queen-mother, Catherine de Medicis, to adopt his policy, the spirit of which required that France should continue, as she was, in the midst of the changes of Europe, and that her individuality should not be absorbed either by the religious revolution of the north, or by the reaction of the south.* He loved the old maxim, One faith, one law, one king;* but in his view that faith should be tolerant, that law protective, and that king impartial to all. It was the language which he strongly proclaimed at the opening of the states assembled at Orleans; his speech was an appeal to all that was calm, wise, and patriotic in the sentiments of the assembly; he adjured in touching terms the faithful of both parties to recognise their duty as fellow-citizens, and to stop in time on the brink of that fatal precipice, down which a twofold fanaticism was about to precipitate everything.†
The Tiers Etat, which the vote by majority had confounded with the two other orders in the States-General of 1484, played a separate and striking part in those of 1560. In political worth, in conceptions as well as in extent, its cahier of remonstrances goes beyond those of the nobility and the clergy; in it there appears a profound sentiment of social justice and of the public interest, zeal for order, an instinctive perception of the need of reforms, and practical knowledge in all the subjects of law and administration. It is a kind of new code, containing no less than 354 articles, and drawn up with such precision that it could immediately be passed into law. Among the demands which it contains, the following are of the most striking importance: The election to ecclesiastical dignities by the concurrence of the clergy and a certain number of notables; the appropriation of a certain portion of the ecclesiastical revenues to the establishment of new professorships in the university, and to the erection of a municipal college in each city; the prohibition of priests to accept wills; the reduction of holidays to Sundays and a small number of festivals; the election of the officers of the magistracy by the concurrence of the judicial order, the municipal magistrates, and the crown; the revision of the ancient laws and ordinances, and the consolidation of those which should be maintained; the prosecution of justice against notorious crimes without the necessity of a private prosecutor; the suppression of customs at home, and the adoption of uniform weights and measures throughout the kingdom; the establishment of elective tribunals of commerce and police; laws to forbid the felling of timber of full growth; the seigneur to be restricted in the execution of justice to the advantage of the royal administration; the penalty of forfeiture of seigneurial rights in the case of every noble convicted of exactions towards the inhabitants of his domains; lastly, the meeting of the States-General once at least every five years, and the immediate choice of a day and a place for their next convocation.*
Although at variance on many points, the three orders were agreed on the question of the public expenses. They declared that they were without powers to vote any new tax, and demanded to be dismissed to their provinces, in order to make known the financial accounts prepared by the King’s ministers. Their demand was admitted, and the states were closed the last day of January, 1561. It was ordered that the provincial states should meet on the 20th of the following March; that, after a consultation in their own body and in the electoral assemblies, three deputies—an ecclesiastic, a noble, and a bourgeois—should be named for each of the thirteen territorial divisions, which were then called governments, and that the thirty-nine representatives should meet at Melun before the 1st of May. The answer, however, to the remonstrances of the states was not delayed till the concession of the subsidies, and the ordinance which contained it was prepared at Orleans the very day on which the assembly broke up. This legislative act, the first of those on which the glory of the Chancellor l’Hôpital rests, is merely, correctly speaking, an extract of the provisions made in the cahier of the Tiers Etat, in which the method of selection is good, but the application of it frequently weak. If this famous ordinance be compared with the collective labour which produced it, it will be found less bold and positive in its proposed reforms; it shows many omissions, and sometimes offers nothing but promises. The only discrepancy worthy of notice between its enacting clause and the text of the cahier is the application which it makes of the system of the canvass, as in the case of officers of the judicature, to ecclesiastical elections, in dividing the right of election into two parts—one belonging to the clergy and the people, the other to the crown; it takes a middle course between the concordat of Francis I. and the return to the ancient usage demanded by the Tiers Etat.*
The deputies of the thirteen Governments of France did not assemble till the month of August, and not at Melun, but at Pontoise, where the commissioners of the two lay orders sat by themselves, while the representatives of the clergy were attending at the ecclesiastical synod held at Poissy under the name of a conference (colloque). Twenty-six persons, thirteen nobles and thirteen bourgeois, thus composed the body which was about to exercise in their full extent the powers of the States-General. There was no disagreement this time between the representatives of the two orders; nobles and commoners both appeared equally imbued with the spirit of innovation, and with a mutual desire to attempt, no longer mere reforms, but the commencement of a revolution. Their cahiers expressed their pretensions to a share of the sovereignty, which recalled to mind those of the States-General of 1356, and proposed measures which were destined not to be moved again till the meeting of the National Assembly in 1789. The absolute right of the Government over the property of the clergy was there laid down as a principle, and served as a foundation for different projects for the extinction of the national debt. Between two plans which were conceived by the thirteen representatives of the commons, the one on which they resolved, and of which they pressed the adoption, consisted in the sale of all the eccleasiastical property for the advantage of the King, while they indemnified the clergy by pensions fixed according to the rank of its members. It was calculated that that sale would produce a hundred and twenty millions of francs, of which forty-eight would be deducted as capital for the new endowment, forty-two applied to the extinction of the national debt, and thirty placed at interest in the cities and ports, in order to encourage commerce in those places, at the same time that they would return a fixed revenue to the treasury.* This plan, which was nothing less than the annihilation of the clergy as a political order, fell to the ground without discussion, in consequence of the offer which was made, and the engagement undertaken by the ecclesiastical deputies themselves, to pay off within ten years the third part of the debt by a voluntary assessment imposed on all the members of their order.
The assembly of Pontoise proposed to reform the whole system of administration by reducing the offices of finance, police, and law to mere triennial commissions; it abridged and fixed the term demanded for the periodical convocation of the States-General to two years; lastly, with more decision on the subject of religious toleration than had been shown by the assembly of Orleans, it claimed the full and free exercise of their form of worship for the Protestants. This last demand was met by promises, and soon by acts. There was now seen what had never before been witnessed in France—the State separated from the Church, and a religion considered as heretical opening its places of prayer, under the protection of the law, by the side of the ancient churches.* But nothing was then ripe for such a state of things; the equality of rights could not produce peace between the professors of two creeds who had not yet learnt mutual respect for each other. The work of the philosophic statesman had to encounter spirits divided by uncontrolable passions; and when religious persecution was extinguished by his hand the civil war commenced. To the movement, which agitated and aroused the conscience of the masses in various ways, was allied the ambitious rivalry of princes and nobles, who renewed, under a king who was a minor, the attempts which they had made a century and a half before, under a king who was incapable. It was a struggle like that between the Burgundians and Armagnacs, but fostered on both sides by the moral interests, by all that is inmost and deepest in the heart—the need of liberty of conscience on the one side, on the other fidelity to the ancient dogmas and attachment to early recollections. Besides, this mixture of pure zeal and egotistical passions served but to render the strife of parties more formidable than in former times, without relieving it of any of its odious horrors—murder and pillage, devastations of our native land, and the appeal to foreign arms.
In the midst of this vast political collision, of which time alone could be the arbiter, and in which all the party leaders were destined to perish one after another by war or assassination, l’Hôpital never relaxed his labours for peace, though it was unattainable; and, without remitting any of his cares for the present, he entertained calm consideration on the future. With his powerful talent for organisation, he resumed all that was excellent in design and counsel in the cahier of the Tiers Etat of 1560, and made it the substance of a series of royal ordinances, the continuation and completion of that of Orleans.* The whole formed in a manner a new stock of civil law, from which subsequent legislation, up to the entire renovation of it in 1789, merely developed its results; and of which many provisions still exist in our present codes. The most celebrated of these ordinances, the greatest both by its extent and its merit, is the one which bears the name of Moulins, and which was delivered in that city in the month of February, 1566. It recapitulates all the judicial reforms which had been decreed up to that time, while it protects them with more effectual guarantees; its principal object was to simplify the administration of justice, and to advance a step towards the unity of jurisdiction, and also of civil proceedings. It diminished the number of ordinary judges, and restrained the jurisdiction of those who held their office by privilege; in this respect, it did not show greater consideration for the municipal corporations than for the ecclesiastical body; it deprived mayors, échevins, capitouls, consuls, and other magistrates of the same order, of the cognisance of civil causes, leaving them only the control over the criminal jurisdiction, and of the police.* This isolated attack upon a part of the municipal privileges did not perfectly succeed; it was not sufficient for a revolution in the political government of the cities, and it was too much for a reform. The old municipalities, which were prior to every communal charter, protested with success to the Parliament in the name of an immemorial right of usage; and the ordinance of Moulins remained without power in regard to them.†
While this man, great both by his talent and his patriotism, was endeavouring, in the midst of honourable labours, to console the sadness of his reflections upon the miseries and crimes of his age, the religious struggle which he strove in vain to prevent continued, interrupted by truces which lasted but a short time, while one after another the means of pacification were wasted. The intolerance of the age was always ready to react against reason and justice; and in this clash of irreconcilable opinions, among which Government tried to hold the balance, the opinion of the masses, that which had the majority in its favour, pressed forward more and more, and dragged everything along with it. Royalty, for a moment impartial, settled down again into its traditions of an ancient and exclusive faith; it again became systematically hostile to liberty of conscience, but covertly, not in an open manner, and forwarded by secret practices the undoing of the concessions which it had made. Instead of the rules of equity and humanity which the Chancellor l’Hôpital recommended, the policy which prevailed in the counsels of the crown was that of the Prince in Machiavelli, imported from the Italian courts. L’Hôpital ceased to have an influence over those counsels, in which his austere loyalty was a restraint and a reproach; he quitted public life, struck with a deep melancholy, which he never shook off in retirement. He beheld, with a continually-growing sorrow, the course of affairs taking the fatal direction which he had wished to change, and the wound of civil discord envenomed by a policy of craft and expediency, of treason and of violence. He died of grief, after having witnessed the frightful completion of that policy, the great crime of the age, and of royalty—the massacre of St. Bartholomew.*
The bourgeoisie of Paris—the fact must be confessed—was an accomplice of the royal power in that day of execrable memory.† Deceived by the fable of a plot, and led away by fanatical hatred, the municipal body received and accepted the orders which were to insure the cold-blooded massacre, in which thousands of Frenchmen perished, in all the security of peace, by the hands of Frenchmen. We behold here one of the most painful moments of our history; and the king upon whose name the memory of that deed rests heavily—Charles IX.—remains marked for one single act with the stamp of an eternal infamy. And yet that prince, who was misled by the aberration of the age, and by atrocious suggestions to play the part of a traitor and assassin, was gifted with a noble intellect. He had, in the highest degree, a taste for the arts, and all the works of genius. His encouragements and his example contributed to maintain and advance the intellectual revival, the commencement of which had thrown so much splendour on the reign of Francis I.
In the midst of civil commotions, and perhaps under their influence, literature became more important; it became a weapon in the strife of parties; it applied itself to great questions of history, of the manners and government of societies. Extensive theories were formed to raise and give new life to the practice of government. Political economy, that civic science which first arose in the cities of Italy, was introduced by an Italian minister, a creature of the queen-mother,* and gave a more rational direction to the regulations made for the management of trades, and the traffic of merchandise. It is from this point that we date the introduction among ourselves of the famous principle of the balance of trade, and the system of protection of the national industry, by the twofold prohibition of the export of materials for manufacture, and the import of manufactured goods.†
There are important lessons to be learnt from political crimes; that of the 24th of August, 1572, speedily falsified the hopes of those who had committed it. The reformation did not perish with the death of its noblest leaders; and the Government, which had hoped to drown in blood the anxieties which were caused by it, still found the same embarrassments in its way, complicated by fresh dangers. Besides those who survived the massacre,* and who had been now made irreconcilable enemies, it had evoked against itself the sympathy felt for the victims, the indignation of mankind, and its own remorse. Those of moderate opinions, who had in vain advised toleration and peace, now rose up and formed in the very heart of Catholic France a party without the spirit of sect, making the third armed party in the country, which received the name of the political, and united itself to the Protestants to maintain in their cause that of human rights and justice. The Government, in return for having violated those rights with an odious barbarity, saw itself retaliated upon by the denial of its own proper rights, and a war against a king who had broken faith proclaimed as lawful. At that time the republican doctrines, produced in some minds by the study of antiquity and the spirit of free inquiry, appeared in books where knowledge of history and subtility of reasoning were mixed with exclamations of hatred and revenge.* Those books, the fruits of Protestant despair and of a general feeling of indignation and disaffection, some of which are still celebrated, were in our country the source of extreme opinions, which, continuing since in more or less activity and power, according to times and circumstances, formed and still form one of the categories of the prevailing national opinion.
Less than four years after the bloody stroke of policy of Charles IX., his successor and one of the instigators of his crime, Henry III., was forced to submit to the conditions of peace which were laid down for him by the victorious confederation of the Calvinists and associated Catholics. The fifth edict of pacification, that of May 14th, 1576, surpassed all the others in the extent of the concessions made to the Protestants.* It was enacted by that edict that the exercise of the new form of worship should be free and public throughout the kingdom, except in Paris and at the court; that marriages contracted previously by priests or religious persons should be legal; that tribunals half composed of Protestants and Catholics should be instituted for the decision of cases affecting Calvinists and united Catholics; that all the sentences passed since the reign of Henry II. in respect of religion should be annulled; that those under sentence or proscription should have the benefit of an amnesty; and that an exemption from taxation should be granted as an indemnity to the widows and infants of the victims of the massacre of St. Bartholomew.*
These were noble measures, capable of commencing an era of civil toleration, if they had been taken in good faith, with the intention and power of maintaining them; but the prince who decreed them was neither willing nor able to make his work permanent. With a mind feeble and eccentric, fanatical and hypocritical, he regarded that peace only as a resource of necessity, as a constraint from which he would disembarrass himself when he could find the means. Besides, even if he had been more honest and more firm of purpose, he would have been driven back by unexpected dangers. The peace which he had concluded with one party raised up war with the other; it made him the object of distrust and hatred to the intolerant party of the Catholics. The whole body of that party which had the majority, the influence of old customs, and the popular power on its side, was roused up by a movement of indignation; and from that movement sprang the League, that terrible association, formed to crush everything which would not join its ranks. Its mainspring was the oath of mutual assistance and devotion even to death, a system of terror, and implicit obedience to a supreme chief who was to be elected;† the mere announcement of that future election was a threat to the King. The League, once constituted in one part of the kingdom, and proclaimed by its manifestoes, spread rapidly, aided by the reactionary passions that murmured against the Court; while the Court itself, in its duplicity, was favouring it. It made the first trial of its power in the elections for the States-General convoked at Blois on the 13th of November, 1576, when the Protestants and the political party were kept away by all the expedients of fraud and violence.
In this manner a convocation of the states, promised by the edict of pacification as its national guarantee, was turned against it, and the greater part of the deputies assembled at Blois brought for their writ of return the pass-word of the League—One Roman Catholic religion.* The representatives of the nobility, who had appeared so zealous in the cause of liberty of conscience in the states of 1560, now appeared almost unanimous, and not less violent than those of the clergy, in this spirit of reaction. Those of the Tiers Etat were also inclined, but with feelings of greater moderation, towards a return to the unity of religious worship; the high bourgeoisie had not yielded without hesitation to the current of extreme passions, which was hurrying along the aristocracy and inferior classes associated under the hands of the clergy. The King, on his part, in his communications with the deputies and in the preliminary conferences, announced that he held as void the concessions which he had made, and desired the states to annul them. Distrusting the League, he yet declared himself its head to anticipate the choice of another person; while the small number of the Calvinistic members and their friends retired, protesting beforehand against the resolutions of the assembly.†
It was in such a conjuncture of circumstances that the question of toleration was submitted for the second time to the judgment of the States-General. The two first orders voted without debate for the repeal of the edict and the resumption of the civil war. In the third order there was a division: one party, and at their head the deputation of Paris, did not shrink from the war; the other wished that the restoration of Catholic unity should be effected by milder means. One member, who as a constitutional writer was the precursor of Montesquieu, Jean Bodin, deputy of Vermandois, distinguished himself in that dispute by displaying, in the same cause that l’Hôpital had defended, great abilities and a noble courage. As leader of the opposition among the bourgeois to the League and the Court, he attempted to resist the Parisian deputies of the Tiers Etat, the commissioners of the two other orders, and the commissioners of the King. When he found himself unable to carry his amendment, that the demand of reunion in one form of worship should be followed in the cahier of his order by the words “without war,” he rendered the war impossible by calling forth through the force of his ability a peremptory refusal of every subsidy.*
This assembly, whose labour ended in merely inclosing the question of religion in a circle without issue, had a high notion of the right of the States-General; it professed a kind of constitutional theory on the exercise and division of the sovereignty. According to it, the laws were of two sorts, the laws of the King and the laws of the kingdom, the former made by the Prince alone, the latter by the Prince with the advice of the states—the former capable of modification and revocable at will, the latter inviolable and not admitting of alteration except with the consent of the three orders of the nation.* To the ancient demand of a periodical meeting of the States-General, the assembly of 1576 added the demand that all the provinces of the kingdom should have the right of holding meetings of their own bodies; lastly, it declared itself strongly against the nomination to ecclesiastical dignities without a previous election by the clergy and a portion of the people, and against the venality of judicial appointments.
The cahier of the Tiers Etat, though as full of various matters as that of 1560,* does not display the same firmness of opinions nor the same precision of style. The reforming spirit does not manifest itself with the same enthusiasm and redundancy. The civil and criminal legislation, the proceedings of law, the public instruction, the finances and commerce, are there treated of; but throughout there is little that is new and original. We find in it scarcely anything but counsels already given, old complaints or the demand of laws promulgated and not put into execution. Three articles are remarkable as a sign of resistance on behalf of municipal privileges to the encroachments of government; they claim, in the name of the corporations of cities, the liberty of meetings, the liberty of elections, and full and entire jurisdiction.† On the other hand, the jealous spirit of the ancient magistracy, whether civic or parliamentary, is here observable from the demand made for the suppression of the tribunals of commerce* —a strange request, to which the Government had the wisdom not to listen.
In the midst of the embarrassments of an armed peace, full of disorders, and always liable to be broken, two years elapsed without an answer from the King to the cahiers of the States-General. His answer was not given till the month of May, 1579, by the publication of an edict which was called the ordinance of Blois. This ordinance, the supplement and confirmation of the great laws which had preceded it, and which it resembles in merit,* is a proof of the numberless difficulties which were then preventing progress, though demanded by public reason, and agreed to by the Government, from being realised and becoming a fact. Many of the provisions of the ordinances of Moulins and Orleans are there repeated and prescribed afresh; it is, as it were, at once a last answer to the complaints of the earlier States-General and the sanction of the cahiers of 1576. This time, moreover, the most important points of the cahier of the Tiers Etat are found in the enacting clause of the new law, which frequently is nothing more than a repetition of its text.
The ordinance of Blois, liberal as that of Orleans in all that concerns the civil law, and preserving the same silence upon the demands of political rights, has for its peculiar characteristic the design of suppressing or diminishing in favour of the royal prerogative the inconveniences which, on certain points, the preceding ordinances imposed upon it. In the case of nominations to ecclesiastical dignities, it rejected the open election without admitting the presentation of candidates, and maintained the absolute right of the king, according to the concordat of 1516. In the case of judicial nominations, for the presentation of three persons by the body of the judicature—a system valued by the Tiers Etat, and passed into a law, although frequently evaded—it substituted a new one, which gave the choice to the crown from the lists of eligible persons to be prepared in each department, and renewed every three years.*
In the year 1576, and at the sitting of the states at Blois, appear the first political acts of a prince at that time leader of a party, and one day destined to rally the parties which were dividing France—Henry of Bourbon, King of Navarre, who was next heir to the throne on the extinction of the dynasty of Valois. Born a Calvinist, forced, without much resistance, however, to become a Catholic in the reign of Charles IX., then having escaped from the court under Henry III, and turned Calvinist again, he had been tossed about by the storms of civil war and religious dissensions both in regard to life and conscience. The chances of fortune and his own changes had early taught him a lesson of judgment and tolerance. A nature sympathetic, generous, open to soft impressions as well as to all the noble feelings, raised him, even during the struggle, above the spirit of sect and party; and, perhaps also, his extreme laxity of morals, the weak point of his character, and a certain lukewarmness in religion, concurred with the high qualities of the man and the patriot, to make him, when the time arrived, the instrument of the national pacification and reconciliation. The spirit of him who was to be Henry IV. was completely and for the first time made manifest in an answer to the vote of the States-General for the reunion of the nation in one form of worship* —an answer given under form of note, in which are found the following passages, which display an admirable refinement of good sense:—
“The King of Navarre commends the states for the zeal which they entertain for the welfare and repose of this kingdom. He fears, however, that the demand which they have made to the King, not to tolerate in this kingdom the exercise of any religion except the Roman, may not be the way of attaining that repose which is so much desired, nor of appeasing the troubles, which will be so much worse than the preceding ones, that there will be no means of pacifying them when both parties at length may really wish it. . . . Therefore, the said King of Navarre begs the said assembly again and again in the name of God, and by the duty which binds them to consult the benefit of their king and country, to be ready to think again and again of this, as being the most eventful subject, and one of the greatest importance, that has ever yet called for deliberation in France. He prays them to consider not merely what they desire, but what this poor kingdom can bear, and that it may act like the sick man desirous of health, who does not take what he finds agreeable and to his taste, but frequently what is very unpleasant and bitter, as most suitable to his malady. That if it gives offence to the Catholics, who enjoy their religion without any trouble from others, to see those of the said religion, whom they now wish to deprive of it entirely, after having so many times accorded it to them, and so long permitted, he desires the states carefully to consider that it has been vainly attempted to drive it out of this kingdom and the kingdoms of England, Hungary, Bohemia, Denmark, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Germany, where it has obtained footing, . . . and, therefore, the said King of Navarre again begs the said assembly for the third time to think well upon it, and take the subject into fresh consideration.”*
This appeal of reason and patriotism was not attended to: the states separated without revising their vote; but from want of means for offensive war, this vote remained as a simple resolution, and a new truce, not less broken by disturbances, although longer than the preceding ones, was effected by fresh negotiations.* It lasted, however, to 1584, when an unforeseen occurrence, the death of the King’s only brother,† gave to the head of the house of Bourbon, the leader of the Protestants, the rights of first prince of the blood and the next heir to the crown.‡ This was the signal of a violent crisis to the parties of the State and to royalty. The prospect of a Hugonot succeeding to the throne, doubtful as it was from the youth of the King, made a shudder of horror thrill through the Catholic population. It was no longer the question, it was said, with a terror sincere or pretended, to ascertain what degree of toleration should be shown to the new religion, but whether they would see it seated on the throne, and as the religion of the State, arming itself with all the royal power against the ancient faith of the country. The League, whose advances hitherto had been limited, now suddenly made immense progress; it penetrated, on this occasion, the upper classes of the bourgeoisie, which seemed entirely to adopt its principles.
The ambitious projects of Henry of Lorraine, Duke of Guise, a family which had bound its fortune and given a martyr to the cause of the Catholic party,* are at this period observed in their full extent. He was the soul of the League—elected as its leader and served by it—the person whom it wished to make first the rival, then the master of the King. With ability joined to boldness, he was able to make himself feared without ever betraying himself, and raised himself to a high pitch of popularity; while the weakness and debaucheries of Henry III. rendered that wretched Prince more and more unpopular. The republican doctrines which the indignation produced by the attempt of Charles IX. had excited and propagated among the Calvinistic party then passed into the opposite ranks, in consequence of the contempt into which the present condition of royalty had fallen, and of the apprehensions which the future reign inspired. The sovereignty of the people, and the right of national election, were invoked as safeguards of the orthodox faith against some pretended connivances with heresy, and the accession of a heretical king.
It was this crisis of opinion, when zeal for the ancient dogma was impregnated with democratic passions, which opened the road and pointed out the object to the ambition of the Guises.* They aimed at the crown by supporting themselves on the false claims which connected them with the second race, and by propping up their cause more effectively by their patronage of the rights which the social progress had placed for three centuries in rivalry with the crown. They held out promises of the restoration of their privileges to all—to the clergy, the nobility, the provinces, and the cities. The cities, once in the full enjoyment of municipal liberty, which they perceived, not without regret, falling under the levelling influence of the Government, seized eagerly at the hope of recovering their lost privileges, and of re-establishing their mutilated constitutions. They warmly enrolled themselves in the League, of which their militia formed the principal force, and Paris placed herself at the head of the movement. An association of municipal bodies was seen forming itself, as in the days of Etienne Marcel, under the influence and direction of the Parisian democracy; but it was now in a spirit of sect and division, and not for the great interest of the nation—it was for the extermination of a portion of their countrymen, and not for the common safety. In case of victory, the result of this civic and popular insurrection would have become a sort of mutual assurance between the clergy, the nobility, and the communes, against the exercise of the royal power, and the progress towards unity—a system of particular interests, and of a parcelling out of the government, under the high protection of Spain—a power hostile to the greatness and independence of the kingdom.*
[* ]M. Mignet. De l’Etablissement de la Réforme religieuse et de la Constitution du Calvinisme à Genève, Notices et Mémoires historiques, t. i., p. 248.
[* ]The States, convoked first at Meaux, afterwards at Orleans, were opened on the 13th of December. 393 deputies attended, as follow: 98 from the clergy, 76 from the nobility, and 219 from the Tiers Etat. See the list of the last below, Appendix, II.
[* ]It occurs to me that, when M. le Cardinal de Lorraine came from the Council of Trent to Fontainebleau, he was very anxious to persuade the King and the Queen to have it published; and this was much debated in the council before their Majesties. The Chancellor spoke boldly and firmly, and entirely opposed it, alleging that it was altogether contrary to the rights and privileges of the Gallican Church, and that it was not right to let them be lost in any way, but to maintain them even to the last drop of French blood. (Vie de Connétable Anne de Montmorency, works of Brantôme, t. vii., p. 98.)
[* ]Une foi, une loi, un roi. Address of the Chancellor to the states held at Orleans the 13th of December, 1560. Des Etats généraux et autres assemblées nationales (1789), t. x., p. 339.
[† ]“Away with these diabolical terms, nicknames of parties, factions and seditions, Lutherans, Hugonots, Papists; let us not give up the name of Christians.” (Address of the Chancellor, Des Etats généraux, &c., p. 343.)
[* ]Cahier of the Tiers Etat of 1560. Art. 10, 69, 72, 56, 48, 144, 243, 205, 343, 244, 245, 246, 265, 165, 82, et 353. Des Etats généraux et autres assemblées nationales, t. xi., p. 273 and foll.—This cahier is divided into five sections, under the following heads. 1. Of the ecclesiastical government; 2. Of the universities; 3. Of the nobility, gendarmery, and royal household; 4. Of justice; 5. Of taxes, imposts, subsidies, merchandise, and other matters.
[* ]All archbishops and bishops shall henceforth be elected and nominated as soon as the vacancy shall occur; to wit, the archbishops by the bishops of the province and the chapter of the archiepiscopal church; the bishops by the archbishops, bishops of the province, and canons of the episcopal church, summoned together with twelve nobles who shall be elected by the nobility of the diocese, and twelve commoners notables, who shall also be elected in the hôtel de ville of the diocese; all of whom, being convoked on an appointed day by the chapter of the vacant see, and assembled, as has been said, shall agree upon the choice of three persons of the competency and qualifications required by the holy decrees and councils, at least thirty years old, whom they shall present to us in order that we may make selection among the three of him whom we may choose to appoint to the vacant archbishopric or bishopric. (General ordinance made on the complaints, statement of grievances, and remonstrances of the States assembled at Orleans, Art. 1, Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xiv., p. 64.)
[* ]See, in the cahier of the Tiers Etat at the meeting at Pontoise, the chapter entitled, Moyen de subvention pour l’acquict des debtes, MSS. in the Bibliothèque Impériale, No. 8927, fol., 33 vols.
[* ]See the edict of the 17th January, 1562 (1561 old style), and the speech of the Chancellor l’Hôpital on the opening of the assembly of St. Germain en Laye. (Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xiv., p. 124, and Mémoires de Condé, t. ii., p. 612.)
[* ]See the edict of November, 1563, which appoints jugesconsuls at Paris, and the declaration of April 28th, 1565, which institutes the consular jurisdiction in the other cities; the ordinance of January, 1563, on justice and police, and the more comprehensive declaration of August 9th, 1564; the ordinance of February, 1566, upon the reform of justice, and the edict of February 4th, 1567, upon the general police of the kingdom. (Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xiv., p. 153, 179, 160, 189, and 220.)
[* ]In order to give some order to the police of the cities of our kingdom, and provide for the complaints which have been made to us, we have ordained that the mayors, échevins, consuls, capitouls, and administrators of the corporations of the said cities, who have hitherto had, or have at present, the control of causes, civil, criminal, and of the police, shall hereafter only continue to have the control of matters criminal and of the police; wherefore we enjoin that they apply themselves unintermittingly and diligently to these, without power of meddling for the future in the cognisance of civil actions between parties, which we have prohibited and forbidden to them, and we transfer and annex this office to our ordinary judges, or high justiciaries, of cities where there are corporations and communities as above, notwithstanding all privileges, customs, usages, and prescriptions that can be alleged to the contrary. (Ordonnance de Moulins, art. 71, ibid, p. 208.)
[† ]See Loiseau, Traité des Seigneuries, edition of 1678, p. 101; and Dubos, Histoire critique de l’établissement de la Monarchie Française, t. iv., p. 298 and following.
[* ]L’Hôpital left the ministry in the month of May, 1568, his death took place the 13th of March, 1573. See the complete picture of his life in the beautiful notice of M. Villemain, Mélanges historiques et littéraires, t. ii.
[† ]The 24th August, 1572.
[* ]René de Biragues, keeper of the seals in 1571, and Chancellor of France after the death of l’Hôpital till 1578.
[† ]In order that our said subjects may be better able to devote themselves to the manufacture and workmanship of wool, flax, hemp, and fillaces, which grow and abound in our said kingdom and country, and to make and derive the profit which the foreigner does, who comes here to purchase them, commonly at a small price, exports them, and has them worked up, and afterwards brings back cloth and linen, which he sells at an excessive price, we have ordained and do ordain that it shall not henceforward be lawful for any of our said subjects, or foreigners, under any pretence whatever, to export from our said kingdom and countries any wool, flax, hemp, and fillaces. . . . We also very expressly prohibit any importation into this our said kingdom of cloth, linen, lace, and gold or silver thread, together with all velvets, satins, damask, taffetas, camlet, linen, and all sorts of stuff streaked with, or having upon them gold or silver, and likewise all harness for horses, belts, spurs and gilt spurs, silver or engraved, under penalty of confiscation of the said articles. Moreover, we forbid the import into our said kingdom and country of all sorts of foreign tapestries, of whatever stuff or make they may be, under the same penalties as above. (Edict of January, 1572, on foreign commerce and the police of the kingdom Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xiv., p. 241.) See, besides, the edicts of the 2nd March, 1571, on the manufacture of cloths; of June, 1572, on the creation of commissioners of commerce; and of the same date upon the regulation of the rate of interest. (Ibid, p. 232 and 252.)
[* ]The frightful scenes of Paris were repeated at Meaux, Orleans, Bourges, Rouen, Angers, Lyons, Toulouse, and in many cities of less importance.
[* ]See the Discours de la Servitude volontaire, by Etienne de la Boëtie; the work of François Hotman, entitled Franco-Gallia; that of Hubert Languet, Vindiciæ contra Tyrannos. sive de principis in populum populique in principem legitimâ potestate; the Apophthegmes, ou discours notables recueillis de divers Auteurs contre la Tyrannie et les Tyrans; the Discours des jugements de Dieu contre les Tyrans, recueilli des Histoires sacrées et profanes; the Traité du Droit des Magistrats sur leurs Sujets, &c.
[* ]The first edict of pacification was delivered the 19th of March, 1562; the second is of the 23rd March, 1568, the third of the month of August, 1570; the fourth of the month of July, 1573. (See the Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xiv., p. 135, 226, 229, and 261.)
[* ]Ibid, p. 280 and foll.
[† ]In case there may be hindrance, opposition, or rebellion to the above by anyone or of any party whatever, the said associates shall be held and obliged to employ all their property and means, and even their own lives, to punish, chastise, and attack those who shall have intended to use constraint and hindrance. . . .
[* ]See the collection entitled, Des Etats généraux et autres assemblées nationales, t. xiii., p. 97 and foll.
[† ]104 deputies of the clergy were counted present at the royal sitting, 75 of the nobility, and 150 of the Tiers Etat. See the list of these last, below, appendix ii (at close of vol. ii.)
[* ]See the Memoir of Bodin on the Estates of 1576, Des Etats généraux, etc., t. xiii., p. 212 and foll.—Your very humble subjects, members of the Tiers Etat, intreat that your Majesty will be pleased to reduce all your subjects to the unity of the catholic, apostolic, and Roman Church, by the best and holiest ways and means that your Majesty shall advise; and in doing this, that the enemies of every other so-called religion be precluded both in public and private. (Cahier of the Tiers Etat in 1576, art. xiii., MS. in the Bibliothèque Impériale, S. F. 595, 2, fol. 6, vo.)
[* ]There is a difference between the laws of the King and the laws of the kingdom . . . the latter, inasmuch as they cannot be made except in a general assembly of the whole kingdom, with the common agreement and consent of the members of the three estates . . . since, also, they cannot be changed or innovated upon except with the agreement and common consent of the three estates. (Instructions des Gens de trois Etats du royaume de France, Mémoires de Nevers, in fol., t. i., p. 445.)
[* ]There are 448 articles, arranged under the following heads. 1. Of the state of the Church; 2. Of the universities; 3. Of justice; 4. Of the nobility; 5. Of the finances, taxes, and imposts; 6. Of merchandise and police. (See the MS. of the Bibliothèque Impériale, S. F. 595, 2.)
[† ]That all elections of prévôts des marchands, échevins, capitouls, and governors of cities be made freely and be continued, and those who shall enter on such offices by other ways be removed from them, and their names erased from the registers. (Cahier of the Tiers Etat de 1576, art. 440, MS. in the Bibliothèque Impériale, S. F. 595, 2. fol. 112ro.)—That it may please you also, according to the ancient custom and liberties, to order that it may be permitted to the mayors and échevins, capitouls, jurats, consuls, and other administrators of the cities, to hold their meetings, public and private, without asking permission for that purpose of your courts of parliament, bailiffs, sénéchaux, and other officers, and without their being held and constrained to summon them there. (Ibid, art. 441.)—The experience of the past has rendered sufficiently understood the disorders which have occurred to the cities from occasion of disobedience to their mayors, échevins, capitouls, jurats, and consuls, from whom the criminal and political jurisdiction, which they before had, may have been taken away. . . . May it please you to order that those who had anciently the jurisdiction both civil, criminal, and political, be re-invested with it, to possess and use it just as they had been accustomed to do before, notwithstanding all edicts, ordinances, and judgments to the contrary. (Ibid, art. 122, fol. 32, vo.)
[* ]And as regards the prieurs and juges-consuls des merchands, that they may be suppressed from this time . . . and their jurisdiction re-united to the ordinary jurisdictions. (Ibid, art. 118, fol. 31, 1o.)
[* ]It has 363 articles, of which 220 treat of the administration of justice, 21 of the universities, and the rest of the ecclesiastic order, the nobility, the army, the finances, and police.
[* ]See the ordinance of Blois, art. 1, 2, 102, and 103, and compare these articles with articles 1 and 39 of the ordinances of Orleans, Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xiv., p. 380 and foll., and p. 63 and foll.
[* ]When the majority of the assembly had resolved that the King should be petitioned to make all the French return to the Catholic religion, it was startled at the retirement of the dissenters, and had an embassy sent to negotiate with them in their places of security beyond the Loire. The envoys found the King of Navarre at Guienne at the head of the Protestants in arms. “He took all in good part,” says the deputy Bodin, in his memoirs, “and wept, when he heard the Archbishop of Vienne recount the calamities of the war.”
[* ]Extract from the Memoirs of Bodin, Recueil des Etats généraux, etc., t. xiii., p. 287 and foll.
[* ]See the treaty of Bergerac and the edict of Poitiers, September, 1577; Recueil des anciennes Lois Françaises, t. xiv., p. 330 and foll.
[† ]François, Duc d’Anjou.
[‡ ]The Bourbons were descendants of Louis IX., by Robert, Count of Clermont, his youngest son.
[* ]Francis, Duke of Guise, father of Henry, killed in 1563 by a Hugonot noble.
[* ]The principal members of this family were the Duc de Guise, his brother the Duc de Mayenne, and the Cardinal de Guise, his eldest son the Prince de Joinville, and his uncles the Ducs d’Aumale and d’Elbeuf.
[* ]In case the King should die without children . . ., the Catholics, as speedily as they can, shall get the states assembled, to procure the election of a Catholic king, and to order the laws of the kingdom so as to restore all things to the course of the ancient fundamental laws of France. . . . It will be very necessary to give notice to our holy Father the Pope and the Catholic King of all our intentions, in order to warn them, and that his Holiness may aid us with his benedictions, and his Catholic Majesty with his forces and means in behalf of such a sacred cause, which affects them closely; nay, in which they have chief interest and principal means of defence.